“Angel” 5×22 – Not Fade Away

That was one of the greatest series finales I have ever seen.

Despite a couple of mishaps in the first half of this season, Angel never forgot that it was always a show about its characters, often putting them through hell (sometimes literally) instead of letting the plot twists take over. Luckily, the past few episodes have seen the show return to its noir-form, culminating in a goosebumps-worthy ending that I don’t imagine I will ever forget.

But Not Fade Away is not just epic for its nail-biting ending; in fact, it’s one of the truest, pulse-pounding Angel episodes I’ve seen since the pilot. Gunn’s exchange with Anne (who returns for a shocking cameo, last seen in 2×14 The Thin Dead Line) is symbolic for everything Angel the series and Angel the character ever were (the quote itself is found below). It’s little moments like these that have always made a show about a vampire with a soul more humane and real than any other show on television. Granted, Gunn might be the least developed character on Angel (Lorne excluded, but we’ll get to that), but at least the writers stay true to this character in more ways than I could’ve imagined.

Then there’s Lorne. I’ll never understand why he joined the show full-time because this character was always better as comic relief and, quite frankly, he never really mixed with the dark and gritty aspects of this show properly. With that said, him shooting Lindsey to death is a terrific and jaw-dropping moment–again, it’s not a plot twist meant to reveal Lorne’s evil side; in fact, one of the last things our green demon says is that he’s going back to his old self. Killing Lindsey was more about Lindsey than it was about him as the previous Wolfram & Hart employee is more stunned than the rest of us that he dies in the hand of Lorne, of all people–err, creatures. It’s raw, stunning and without a doubt one of the most creative sendoffs I’ve seen on television.

I was skeptical about Wesley’s fate from the moment I started this finale. In a way, his death seems inevitable and slightly predictable, but it’s still heartbreaking to watch him and Illyria (who becomes Fred for him one last time) in each other’s arms. The goofy little Watcher from Buffy easily became one of my favorite characters in the Buffyverse, but his bittersweet tragic ending is still much more satisfying than, say, Cordelia’s entire existence on this show. My only complaint is that Illyria joined the season way too late, and I would have loved to see how she moves on after Wesley’s death (she does admit to feeling grief and heartbreak at the end).

Angel gets a pretty pulse-pounding fight sequence with Hamilton, who isn’t a very well-developed antagonist but still embodies everything that is evil: Wolfram & Hart. The fight scene itself is longer than usual and still manages to incorporate witty banter, a Joss Whedon signature. I was more impressed by how Angel eventually takes down the Big Bad by sucking away his powers (in a goosebumps-worthy moment where we see Vamp Angel for one last time), a brilliant and thematic move that brings everything together perfectly.

Finally, there’s that epic ending that everyone keeps talking about. I refuse to see that final scene as a ‘cliffhanger’ or a cop-out ending; in fact, it’s a fantastic way to bring the show’s mythology to a bone-chilling finish. We take away from it whatever we want, even if it might actually leave us hanging, but at least we’re left knowing that Angel Investigations will always be fighting the good fight. The new team prepares to take on a dragon and more than a dozen of demons and unearthly creatures–it might be a fight they know they’re not coming out of alive, but it’s a fight worth taking. Leaving the conclusion up to the viewer’s imagination is the most powerful way to bookend this flawed yet always-fully-realized show, and if there’s anything I’ll miss the most about the Buffyverse as a whole, it’s that it never ceased to keep me on my toes while leaving me to interpret things on my own.

Thank you, Whedon, for creating a universe so ugly and beautiful. I’ll miss it terribly.


Bits

– Harmony betraying Angel is hilarious and, again, very true to her character. I’m so glad she makes it out of Wolfram & Hart alive.

– Eve is still the worst, but how about that ending? Angel tells her that Lindsey won’t be coming back for her and then the building literally starts to crumble and collapse onto her.

– Spike was terrific in the finale. His fight scene while holding the baby was mighty amusing, and I’m sad to admit that I’ll actually miss him a lot more than I expected.

– Spike’s poem is actually the same one used in the Buffy episode Fool For Love. Nice continuity there.

– To make myself feel better, I will pretend that Wesley and Fred are in the same ‘heaven’ that Buffy was in befoe Willow brought her back in season six. You do the same if these deaths still bring you to tears.

– I thought the Connor-centric episode was a fitting closure to his entire storyline, but I still didn’t mind seeing him in the finale. His transformation is truly amazing. It’s sad we only got to see a horrible side of him last season.

– Chilling moment with Fred turning into Illyria and punching the demon in the face to death. Wow!

– Shortly after the finale aired, The WB aired a “Thank you for watching” video that honestly gave me goosebumps. You can watch it here.

– Despite its slow start, season five really turned out to be a great season. The Angelus/Faith and Gina Torres’ arcs in season four make it much more riveting, but there’s no denying the past few episodes were badass.

Quotes

Wesley: The first lesson a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion. Because in the world of magics, it’s the hardest thing to do. The truth is that Fred is gone. To pretend anything else would be a lie. And since I don’t actually intend to die tonight, I won’t accept a lie.

(Gunn is helping Anne pack stuff for the shelter into a truck)
Gunn: What if I told you it doesn’t help? What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it’s all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive, and they will never let it get better down here. What would you do?
Anne: I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here.

Wesley: There is no perfect day for me, Illyria. There is no sunset or painting or finely-aged scotch that’s going to sum up my life and make tonight any… There is nothing that I want.

Angel: I want you, Lindsey. (pause) I’m thinking about rephrasing that.

Spike: First off, I’m not wearing any amulets, no bracelets, broaches, beads, pendants, pins, or rings.

Angel: I knew you’d turn on me. I just didn’t know when.
Harmony: What do you mean you knew?
Angel: Loyalty really isn’t high on your list.
Harmony: Oh, is that right? I’ll have you know I am damn loyal, dumbass.
Angel: You betrayed me. You are betraying me now, even as we are talking!
Harmony: Because you never have any confidence in me!
Angel: No, because you have no soul.
Harmony: I would, if you had confidence in me!

Connor: Come on. You drop by for a cup of coffee, and the world’s not ending? Please.

Lindsey (to Lorne): You kill me? A flunky? I’m not just… Angel…kills me. You don’t… Angel…

Illyria: Would you like me to lie to you now?
Wesley: Yes. (closes his eyes in a slow, pained blink) Thank you. Yes. (opens his eyes and sees Fred)
Fred (smiling through her tears): Oh, Wesley. My Wesley.
Wesley: Fred… I’ve missed you.
Fred (kisses him): It’s gonna be ok. It won’t hurt much longer, and then you’ll be where I am. (crying) We’ll be together.
Wesley: I-I love you.
Fred: I love you. My love. Oh, my love.

Gunn: You take the thirty thousand on the left.

Spike: And in terms of a plan?
Angel: We fight.
Spike: Bit more specific?
Angel: Well, personally? I kind of wanna slay the dragon.

Angel: Let’s go to work.

Rating
A+

“Angel” 5×20 – The Girl in Question

How incredible was Amy Acker in this? She had to portray two completely different characters in The Girl in Question and she gives another one of her career-best performances as both Fred and Illyria. Her entire subplot with Wesley and Fred’s parents was gut-wrenching and painful from start to finish, and a part of me is glad those poor Texan folks never found out their girl died. I don’t think I could handle watching that scene break down.

Even Angel and Spike’s cartoonish adventures in Rome proved to be delightfully amusing. All the Buffy teases were exceptionally done as I was getting increasingly more hopeful of seeing her, but this hour proved that the Buffyverse is never-ending. While it literally ends in only two episodes (which, by the way, I am completely unprepared for), The Girl in Question reveals that Buffy might have been dating The Immortal, one of Angel and Spike’s biggest arch-nemeses, and it adds a whole lot of interesting layers to the Angel/Spike dynamic. Plus, that final scene as the two brooding vampires pretend to admit that they’re moving on (just like Buffy) was a brilliant way to bookend this near-perfect hour.

TWO EPISODES LEFT!


Bits

– The slow-mo fight sequence at the Rome club, punctuated by an elegant violin-like score, was pretty nifty. Why couldn’t this show be more creative like that before?

– How heartbreaking was it to watch Wesley tell Illyria never to be Fred again? I’m still in denial about Wes and Fred not getting their cheesy happily ever after.

– Andrew was kind of annoying in this one. I liked him a lot better when he showed up in L.A. a few episodes back.

– With the show ending soon, I’m very pleased with all the cameo appearances we’ve been receiving. Both Darla and Drusilla show up in Angel and Spike’s flashbacks, and they’re just as amusing as ever.

– I understand we couldn’t have Buffy (or Sarah Michelle Gellar), but why couldn’t we at least see Dawn for one last time?

– I didn’t review the Connor-centric episode, but I have to admit it was just as amazing as this one. Connor leaving Angel’s office, supposedly unaware of his old memories, and calling him “dad” in the final scene gave me goosebumps. I’m glad the show decided to give that entire storyline the proper closure it deserved.

Quotes

Angel: I helped save the world, you know.
Spike: Like I haven’t.
Angel: Yeah, but I’ve done it a lot more.
Spike: Oh, please.
Angel: I closed the Hellmouth.
Spike: I’ve done that.
Angel: Yeah, you wore a necklace. You know, I helped kill the Mayor and, uh, and Jasmine and—
Spike: Do those really count as savin’ the world?
Angel: I stopped Acathla. That saved the world.
Spike: Buffy ran you through with a sword.
Angel: Yeah, but I made her do it. I signaled her with my eyes.
Spike: She killed you. I helped her! That one counts as mine.

Spike: I had a relationship with her too.
Angel: Sleeping together is not a relationship.
Spike: It is if you do it enough times.

Wesley (to Illyria): Change back. Be blue. Be anything. Don’t be her. Don’t ever be her.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 5×16 – Shells

Shells might be one of my favorite episodes of Angel.

There have been way too many changes this season, what with Cordelia gone and an increased focus on Wolfram & Hart (plus, when’s the last time Angel actually fought a vampire?), so it’s nice to see that Shells, which is a brilliantly written hour of television, goes back to what made this show so good in season two. In a world where there are vampires and demons, it’s the show’s interpretation of human connection that makes it worth watching, and this episode makes a terrific point of exactly why we grieve and yet keep on living afterwards.

I know Illyria will probably be around for a couple more episodes, but Shells is truly the perfect sendoff for Fred, despite the fact that she isn’t even in it (if you don’t count the final flashback at the end). Once again, Wesley proves that he is the real MVP of this show, refusing to simply cry over the love of his life and actually asking the right questions. Considering the universe this show exists in, I’m beyond pleased that he doesn’t accept that Fred is just ‘dead’. As Angel later repeats as well, death is not the end in this world, and even if Illyria isn’t Fred (although the similarities, physically and otherwise, are uncanny) there’s no reason not to keep her around. Clinging on to a loved one even after their death is one of the first steps in grieving, after all, and I’m honestly very excited to see how the writers tackle Wesley’s subplot with Illyria moving forward.

Of course, what helps make this episode a true success is the tension. The fight sequences between our gang and Illyria herself are visually incredible, whether it’s Angel’s slow-mo fall off a building or Illyria’s teleportation to her world and realizing that everything has been destroyed. I believe Angel had plenty of chances to write good female characters, but somehow still seemed to drop the ball with Cordelia (still not over what they did to her last season), Kate, Lilah and Fred; luckily, I have faith that the badass Illyria might be the one true exception.

Let’s hope the last few hours of the Buffyverse are even half as clever and amazing as this one.


Bits

– Shocking moment with Wesley stabbing Gunn in the stomach. It’s very true to his character, but it’s still unexpected.

– There’s a lot of symbolism in Shells, some of which are hard to notice at first. I love that the episode starts and ends with Wesley and Illyria. Whereas their first interaction is that of anger and hatred, it’s quite comforting to see them come together by hour’s end.

– The episode ends with another Fred flashback. While the previous hour starts with her packing her bags and saying goodbye to her parents, the ending here shows Fred in her car on her way to LA. It’s sad, knowing exactly where this path is going to lead her.

– I’m not satisfied with that brief mention of Willow. I need to know why she’s in the Himalayas, what she’s doing there and I just want to know more!

– I complained about Spike last time, but now I see absolutely no reasonable explanation for Lorne’s existence on this show. And let’s not talk about his ‘powers’. They have been wildly inconsistent ever since they were introduced.

– Angel saying ‘I lost Cordelia because some thing violated her’ bothered me. His choice of words are always kind of icky, aren’t they?

– I like Spike’s idea of sending Gunn away. As far as possible, fellas!

– That said, it was heartbreaking to watch Gunn want to turn into a vegetable if it meant bringing Fred back.

– I need to see more of Harmony, writers! She knows how to bring some positivity back into this gang.

– Impressive fight scene in the end, but did Illyria have to ask how Angel wasn’t affected by her time wave? The fact that she says “sneaky” after she gets her explanation is so cheesy.

– Illyria getting fragments of Fred’s memory to remind Wesley that her final line was “Please…Wesley, why can’t I stay?” was gut-wrenching. Ouch.

– I generally hate montages, but those final 2 minutes were heartbreaking. This show got real dark, real quick.

– So many cleverly written lines this week, I hope I got the best ones.

Quotes

Wesley: Look. Humans rule the Earth. They will last for millennia, like roaches crawling everywhere. Crying and sweating and puking their feelings all over you. Go back. Sleep until the humans are gone. They are stupid and weak. They’ll kill each other off and you can return to the world you deserve. Leave this shell.

Spike: In the world of men, a person dies, they stay that way.
Angel: Unless you’re a vampire.
Spike: Or the ghost of one that saved the world.
Angel: Or Buffy.

Gunn: Where do we start?
Angel: We need the big guns.
Wesley: Willow.
Spike: Won’t be the first time she rattled the dead.

Angel: (to phone) Himalayas? I thought she was in South America.
Spike: We’ve got a branch in Tibet? How about a couple of sherpas?
Angel (to phone): All right, look–what do you mean she’s not on this plane? You just said… Astral projection? Well, is there any way to get her astral over to L.A.?

Wesley: Never a witch around when you need one.

Spike: I fancied I saw a blur just before she went Houdini.
Gunn: Yeah, like she was pulling a Barry Allen. (Angel looks at him) Jay Garrick? Wally–like she was moving really fast.

Harmony: Come on, I got a degree in tearing things up.

Harmony: Wes, the girl of your dreams loved you. That’s more than most people ever get.
Wesley: I know. But it isn’t enough.

Angel: You’re about as low as it gets, Knox, but you’re a part of humanity. That isn’t always pretty, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what came before. And if it comes down to a choice between you and him, then yes, I would fight for his life, just like any other human’s. Because that’s what people do. That’s what makes us—
(Wesley shoots Knox)
Angel (turns to face Wesley): Were you even listening?

Wesley: If I were to help you find your way, you have to learn to change. You mustn’t kill.
Illyria: You killed the Qwa’ha Xahn in defiance of your leader.
Wesley: He murdered the woman I love.
Illyria: And that made it just.
Wesley: No. It wasn’t just.

Illyria: We cling to what is gone. Is there anything in this life but grief?
Wesley: There’s love. There’s hope…for some. There’s hope that you’ll find something worthy… that your life will lead you to some joy… that after everything… you can still be surprised.
Illyria: Is that enough? (looks at Wesley) Is that enough to live on?

Rating
A

“Angel” 5×15 – A Hole in the World

Of course, just as Fred and Wesley were about to get their ‘happily ever after’, Joss Whedon comes in and destroys every inch of that happiness, ripping our hearts and emotionally scarring us in the process.

Fred’s slow death is utterly painful to watch, even if it’s foreshadowed by the flashback in the teaser of her pre-LA days with her parents. I never thought I would be so saddened by this character dying, but Amy Acker delivers a career-best performance all throughout A Hole in the World, often making this episode increasingly harder to watch even as we know what we’re heading towards in the end.

However, this hour is still a very flawed one. While I admit that Fred singing and puking blood all over Wesley was a jaw-dropper, followed by Lorne’s shocking facial expression, nothing really happens in the second half of the episode. Much like the first 10 episodes of season five, A Hole in the World treads water and ends up hardly entertaining us as it reaches its predictable (and sadly horrific) conclusion. While Cordelia’s death was shocking and powerful, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Fred’s painful demise didn’t mean anything in the long-term. Of course, the ramifications of this game-changing move could have everlasting effects over the show’s final few episodes, but I’m still not very pleased with how they killed off a major character.

Plus, it saddens me that all three of Wesley’s love interests are now dead (if you count Cordelia and remember that they briefly had a thing on Buffy). This is a character that is truly brought to life by Alexis Denisof’s powerful performance, but there’s only so much pain and suffering you can stomach before it becomes unrealistic. Is anyone else reminded of Paul Blackthorne and the countless times he’s had to watch his daughters die on Arrow?


Bits

– I like that the title of the episode refers to the literal hole in the Earth as well as the one that Fred’s death will have on her friends. How very Whedon.

– Much like Spike himself, I’m beginning to wonder why James Marsters is even on the show anymore.

– Eve is back. Ugh.

– If everyone sits and sulks for the remainder of the series, I will be very pissed for not getting ANY reaction to Cordelia’s coma and death all season long. Not cool, writers.

– This is the last episode Joss Whedon wrote and directed.

– It bothers me that Fred repeatedly says she is not the damsel in distress and yet she was. She didn’t die a hero, trying to save the world like Spike, but was instead weak and powerless in her final hours. But maybe that’s why this was even more traumatizing?

– So, Knox was evil…sort of? Someone’s a sore loser.

– Gunn finding out that he had something to do with Fred’s death is actually a huge plot twist. Why couldn’t he be the one to die, though?

Quotes

Angel: You and me. This isn’t working out.
Spike: Are you saying we should start annoying other people?

Fred: I am not—I am not the damsel in distress. I am not some case. I have to work this. I lived in a cave for 5 years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle. I am not going to be cut down by some monster flu. I am better than that!

Angel: I’ve never seen Les Mis.
Spike: Trust me, half way through the first act, you’ll be drinking humans again.

Rating
B+

“Angel” 5×14 – Smile Time

That was unique and downright hilarious.

I love when TV shows break the mold and attempt to do something completely different, but to have an entire episode based on puppets with the main character actually becoming one as well is a huge, creative risk. I can’t imagine any other show pulling this off and actually succeeding.

What works about Smile Time is that the Angel puppet was just very amusing to watch. His facial expressions, dark coat, and broodiness are all spot-on that I must give credit to the show’s creative team for pulling off this daunting task in such an effective and fun matter. While I thought the Nina/Werewolf stuff was odd and random for an episode that already felt a bit overstuffed, I was thoroughly engrossed by puppet-Angel’s adventures this week. And, for an experimental episode like this one, that’s an achievement of its own.

Then there’s Fred and Wesley. It’s no secret I’ve been dying for these kids to get together for over a season and a half now, but all the buildup this season certainly helped make their first kiss absolutely electrifying. It’s crazy how Angel never had a real love interest for its main character (much like Buffy, one can argue), but that leaves room for us to ship whoever we want, and I say if we can’t have Angel and Buffy together then I will still be satisfied with Fred and Wesley getting their happily ever after. After everything they’ve been through (including a groan-inducing love triangle with Gunn), they certainly deserve it. Pretty please, Whedon?


Bits

– Shockingly, I’m also intrigued by Gunn’s new subplot. Why is Wolfram & Hart messing up with his head, ripping him of skills they’d already given him before? Hmmm.

– Hilarious moment with Spike and puppet-Angel fighting.

– Priceless long shot of the gang walking out ready to fight as we pan out to find puppet-Angel with a frown and a sword. I died!

– There’s even a vampire version of the puppet-Angel, with fangs and everything! How in the world did they come up with this stuff?

– At first, I thought this was going to get a bit cheesy and childish, but there was some deep, creepy PG-rated stuff in here. Those puppets were downright terrifying, I have to admit.

– I had to look it up, but Flowers for Algernon is a reference to a story about a retarded man who gets experimented on and becomes a genius before it all starts to fade away and he loses everything. As much as it pains me to say it, I wouldn’t mind if Gunn bit the bullet anytime soon.

– Framkin, the puppet creator, was also the mustard guy from the Buffy musical episode! He’s played by David Fury, a writer and director on both Buffy and Angel.

– The smiling kids reaching out to touch their TV screens is a nightmare-inducing visual.

Quotes

Angel: She asked me to breakfast.
Wesley: Breakfast. Right. How did you respond?
Angel: Well… of course, I—ahem— ignored it completely, changed the subject, and locked her in a cage.

Angel: Yes, I’m a puppet. Doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 5×12 – You’re Welcome

What a truly perfect hour of television.

There was a lot riding on You’re Welcome because not only is it the show’s 100th episode, a landmark for any TV show, but it also features Charisma Carpenter’s return as Cordelia, one of television’s most underappreciated characters. Just like Katie Cassidy’s Laurel on Arrow, I feel like Angel has horribly mistreated this incredible actress and character, and a part of me is glad she gets to have a stunning send-off.

Plot-wise, this episode knows how to integrate Cordelia’s return from an endless sleep into the narrative without seemingly trying too hard. From Spike mentioning his tattooed new friend who goes by Doyle (more on this in the bits) to Cordy figuring out how to help Angel defeat Lindsey (and Eve) once and for all, You’re Welcome packs a well-structured story with hilarious one-liners and outrageous zingers. Yes, Lindsey’s eventual doom might be a bit rushed (I certainly thought he’d be around for the series finale), but at least this means the show is finally picking up the pace. Granted, I haven’t been able to watch this show so much because it’s been slow and boring all season long.

And then there’s that ending. I don’t remember the last time a show truly devastated me (Grey’s AnatomyThis Is Us and Buffy are certainly contenders for this category), but the final 5 minutes of this episode reminded me why I absolutely love television. With so many shows on the air lately and so many different ways to watch, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget why I let television consume me on an almost daily basis. The gut-wrenching ending to You’re Welcome reminded me that I get attached to the characters so much that they become a huge part of my life, even if the characters are as horribly underdeveloped as Cordelia. So maybe this is a testament to Charisma Carpenter’s flawless depiction of this character or her electrifying chemistry with David Boreanaz in that final scene. Or maybe it’s the way that sequence plays out with the sweeping camera and music as Cordelia and Angel share one final goodbye kiss.

Whatever it is, I’m just glad I stuck around long enough to watch this episode, which was as sad as it was satisfying. I may love my comedies and my action flicks and sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventures, but there’s absolutely nothing more I love than an unforgettable heartbreaking moment that shocks me to my core in a genuinely clever and emotional matter. Well done, Angel.


Bits

– What a fitting and sad title. It’s also the last thing Cordelia ever says to Angel. Sniff.

– Epic opening teaser with Cordelia waking up from her coma. That definitely made me intrigued.

– Part of what I don’t like about this season is that there have been way too many changes this year, but I’m glad the 100th episode went back to this show’s core dynamics.

– Charisma Carpenter looked absolutely gorgeous in this episode, but does anyone else think she was showing a lot of cleavage? What’s up with that?

– There are countless of callbacks and references in this hour and I did my best to take notes of all of them: Lindsey getting his hand cut by Angel, the Doyle video from season one, mentions of Connor and Lilah, Cordelia calling Angel “champ” and finally the epic callback to Angel kicking a client out of the window from the pilot. Wow.

– This was truly the best way to honor Doyle’s memory (played by Glenn Quinn, who died in 2002). If you pause this show at the right moment, you can actually see Charisma and David tearing up while watching the Doyle video. Heartbreaking stuff.

– I smiled at Cordy’s refusal to walk into Wolfram & Hart at first.

– So glad they didn’t mention the terrible twists and turns that ruined last season. No need to remember all that head-spinning crap.

– Cordelia and Angel have two beautiful heart-to-heart conversations, but I somehow loved her exchange with Wesley just as much.

– Hilarious moment with Cordy calling Eve “Lilah Junior”.

– I waited five seasons to see Cordelia in action. I was not disappointed to see her with a huge sword.

– Awkwardly meta moment with Angel saying “I’m Angel, I beat the bad guys”. Makes me miss Buffy so much.

– Apparently, Sarah Michelle Gellar was supposed to be the special guest star for this episode. While I really miss Buffy, I’m glad Cordelia got to be the highlight of the 100th hour. She was the beating heart of this show from the start…literally.

– The final silent shot of Angel standing alone in his office is haunting and beautiful.

– So many hilarious lines this week!

Quotes

Cordelia: Mystical comas. You know, if you can stand the horror of a higher power hijacking your mind and body so that it can give birth to itself, I really recommend ’em.

Cordelia: Ooh, great, shopping! I love that idea ’cause, you know, I’m not so ready to go back to the hotel yet.
Angel and Wesley (simultaneously): Not a problem.

Harmony: You and me together again! So, how was the coma?

Lorne: Hey, listen, crumbcake, when you’re ready to splash back into that acting pool, just say the word. I’ll have you lunching with Colin Farrell like that.
Cordelia: Who’s Colin Farrell?

Eve: We’ll talk business later, big guy. I’ll let you two catch up.
Angel: And I’ll let you walk out of here with your head still attached to your body.

Cordelia: OK, Spike’s a hero, and you’re C.E.O. of Hell, Incorporated. (holds up her hands) What freakin’ bizarro world did I wake up in?

Cordelia: I naturally assumed you’d be lost without me, but this?!

Cordelia: Do you ever wonder… Do you ever think about if we’d met up that night and had a chance to–
Angel: All the time.
Cordelia: Guess we missed our moment, huh?
Angel: Maybe we were meant to. Or maybe people like us just don’t get to…have that.
Cordelia: Angel, there are no people like us.

Cordelia: Spike, well, well. I heard you weren’t evil anymore, which kind of makes the hair silly.

Cordelia: I thought he had a soul.
Spike: I thought she didn’t.
Cordelia: I do!
Spike: So do I!
Cordelia: Well, clearly mine’s better.

Angel: I see fangs, I’m gonna play dentist.

Angel: Harmony, guard Eve. She moves, eat her.
Harmony: Really? Thanks!

Cordelia: You can order me around all you want, but I know my rights. (unsheathes a sword) And I wanna see a lawyer.

Lindsey: Now all you got in there is that big honkin’ sword. How’s that feel, champ?
Angel: Could be worse… (pulls the sword out of his chest) If it had been made out of wood, you dumbass.

Rating
A+

“Angel” 5×09 – Harm’s Way

This has to be one of my favorite “guilty pleasure” episodes of Angel.

Despite Harmony being mostly a character that was created for comic relief way back in season one of Buffy, Mercedes McNab brings her to life in more ways than anyone could have possibly imagined. It helps that Joss Whedon has crafted characters that are fully realized from the start, but without McNab’s top-notch performance I don’t suppose I could have enjoyed this Harmony-centric hour.

It was fun watching Harm go on her day-to-day tasks, whether it’s microwaving the boss’s mug of pig blood, craving for coworkers’ attention or spying over Angel’s phone conversations, and Harm’s Way was well-structured enough to keep us guessing whether the world’s worst assistant truly did turn evil and killed a man or not. The added emotional depth at the end of the episode revealing just how badly Harmony seeks attention was a nice albeit predictable touch.

As far as fillers go, this one is probably one of this show’s most successful and entertaining ones.


Bits

– Loved the tacky Wolfram & Hart recruitment commercial in the teaser, but I was a bit disappointed it had nothing to do with the rest of the hour.

– Great continuity bit: Harmony’s love for unicorns.

– On Harmony’s to-do list: Big demon summit, remind security of summit, arrange transportation, return camel, confirm catering.

– Hilarious detail: there’s a Non-Human Resources department at Wolfram & Hart.

– Harmony’s outfits are very colorful and loud, which is quite the opposite of this show’s tone. That entire sequence of her getting ready and arriving at work was very The Devil Wears Prada.

– Tamika, the actual murderer, uttering the phrase “My lips? Sealed. The key? Lost it” might possibly be the worst line I’ve ever heard in the history of television. Please never again, writers!

– Tamika getting staked with chopsticks: hilarious.

– There are left-biters and right-biters? Interesting.

– Fred and Harmony’s scenes were brilliantly entertaining. Can they become gal pals now?

– On that note, I love that the show has not forgotten about Fred and Wesley. I will be pissed if these two don’t end up together by the end of the show.

– I liked Spike and Harmony’s final exchange about him not knowing if Buffy would love to see him even after he chose to save the world for her. Spike: still desperately missing Buffy, but probably not as much as I am.

Quotes

Spike: Any message for Buffy?
Angel: Tell her you’re a moron.

Harmony (to Fred): We’re totally bonding! We’re like gal pals! This is awesome! You can teach me about life, and I can teach you how to dress better.

Angel: What are you doing?
Harmony: Desk crunches! “Get fit while you sit!” You should see my abs! You wanna?

Harmony: Sambuca!
Tamika: Tamika.
Harmony: Right.

Rating
B+

“Angel” 5×08 – Destiny

Angel and Spike finally face off in a brilliant, pulse-pounding fight sequence in Destiny. Not only is the scene very well-staged and choreographed, but it’s also incredibly performed by David Boreanaz and James Marsters. The fact that it’s paralleled with their London flashbacks with Drusilla is icing on the cake.

Despite that epic long sequence, though, Destiny is just another great season-five idea that sounds good on paper but fails in execution. What was the point of Spike being a ghost for so long this season if he was going to become corporeal as quickly as he did here? For how long can the show resolve its conflicts by saying that the unseen senior partners at Wolfram & Hart “took care of it”? And why is Wesley out on vacation when this season desperately needs him? And while we’re at it, Cordelia’s absence (and the fact that no one even mentions her anymore) is absolutely unforgivable.

Plus, let me just get this out of the way: Eve is the absolute worst.


Bits

– All those mentions of Buffy made me think maybe she’ll show up again? I’m being delusional, I know.

– Lindsey is back?! Did not see that coming!

Rating
B+

“Angel” 5×07 – Lineage

Raise your hand if you teared up a little at the end of this episode.

The first six episodes of this season were very disappointing, to the point where I could barely muster the energy to write a few words let alone an entire review. The increased focus on Wolfram & Hart has been one big missed opportunity after another, and don’t even get me started on that atrocious Lorne-centric hour. I’m pretending that one did not exist, as should you.

Lineage, on the other hand, is a near-perfect installment. It’s got a whole bunch of flaws, such as the heavy-handed stuff at the beginning where Angel supposedly hasn’t forgiven Wesley yet for kidnapping Connor (even though Wes doesn’t know this happened anymore). We knew this already and we really didn’t need the characters to mention it again.

What makes this episode stand out, however, is that it shifts the focus onto Wesley, who’s been one of my favorite characters on Angel since the second season. His dynamic with his father was wildly amusing from start to finish, as was Roger’s interactions with every other member of the gang. Wesley shooting his dad repeatedly in an effort to protect the woman he loves (Fred) was incredibly shocking, even if he doesn’t end up being really his father. The brilliance of this moment is that the not-really-Roger twist doesn’t feel like a cop-out ending; Wesley admits he truly believed he killed his own dad, and it was gut-wrenching to watch this realization break down, followed by Fred leaving with Knox and him sitting at his lonely desk at night, calling his real parents back home. It’s a true tearjerker, and I’m glad to report Alexis Denisof knocks this scene right out of the park.

Let’s hope the rest of the season is at least half as good as this installment.


Bits

– It’s very interesting how this show doesn’t have a real love interest for its main lead (Buffy hasn’t appeared in ages and Cordelia is who-knows-where). It makes us root for Wesley and Fred a lot more than we probably should be.

– Loved Spike referencing sex with robots. Hilarious callback.

– Spike’s scene with Eve reveals that the amulet wasn’t supposed to be for Angel anyway. Hmm.

– There’s nothing more real during the scene where Wesley kills his father than him vomiting afterwards. Reminds me of Buffy doing the same after she finds her mother’s body.

Quotes

Roger: There’s some who believe that your tenure as watcher ranks as our most embarrassing failure.
Wesley: Really? I beat out everybody dying in an explosion as most embarrassing failure.

Wesley: Tell me, father, what is it that galls you so, that I was never as good at the job as you… or that I just might be better?
Roger: Oh, yes, this is Los Angeles. We have to talk about our feelings. Then maybe we’ll hug.

Rating
A-

“Angel” 5×02 – Just Rewards

There’s a lot of fun to be had with Angel and Spike’s dynamic, especially with their shared evil history and common love interest, and Just Rewards is crammed with some hilarious banter between these two. David Boreanaz and James Marsters are both up to the comedic task, infusing their respective characters with just the right amount of depth and humor.

Sadly, the rest of the hour was a hit and miss. While the Angel/Spike scenes were mostly amusing, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s just extremely contrived to have Spike on this show. I get that he was a fan favorite on Buffy, but from a writing standpoint does it make sense to keep telling his story? Wasn’t it (sort of) better to end his arc with his sacrifice? It certainly seemed like a great deal of character development so to have him revert back to being a bit obnoxious and jealous is disappointing.

Then there’s Hainsley, a one-dimensional terrible weekly villain. His ability to transform demon souls into human bodies was too twisted, even for this show, and I was bored to death whenever he took up screen time. Please no more standalone cases!


Bits

– Loved seeing Buffy in the flashback. Sure, it’s the same footage from the series finale, but it still warmed my heart to see SMG on screen again!

– Angel tells Spike that Buffy is in Europe. I NEED TO KNOW MORE, WRITERS!

– Incredible choreography as Angel does a complete split in mid-air while fighting a beast at the law firm. Wow.

– Hilarious bit with Harmony telling Angel that the beast he just killed was actually his 3 o’clock meeting.

– How breathtaking is Angel’s new apartment?

– So, if Spike is a ghost (sort of), how can he sit in Angel’s car or put his feet up on a desk? This was a very distracting oversight for me.

– Do I sense a possible Spike/Fred ‘ship coming soon?

Quotes

Spike: I must be in hell.
Lorne: Uh, no. L.A., but a lot of people make that mistake.

Lorne: Honey of a story.
Fred: Story?
Lorne: Yeah, the vampire slayer both men loved, both men lost. Oh, I could sell that to any studio in a heartbeat. I see Depp and Bloom. But then I see them a lot.

Angel (to Spike): I know you can’t help me, but could you maybe not root for the other team?

Spike: That’s how you’re gonna fight the forces of evil now, call the I.R.S.?

Rating
C+